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RENEE AND ANDREW MACRAE: Woman passenger spotted man with 'staring, wide eyes' beside A9

By Ali Morrison

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The High Court in Inverness.
The High Court in Inverness.

The High Court in Inverness heard a statement from woman who said she saw 'stuff heaped on and around' a pram

Details were given in a statement from Jean Wallace, now deceased.

Sections of the statement were read out in the court today by Detective Chief Inspector Brian Geddes, who led a massive re-investigation into their disappearance code named Operation Abermule which began in 2018.

Mrs Wallace said she had been a passenger in a car with her husband driving up the A9 from Dundee to Beauly on November 12, 1976 – the night Mrs MacRae and three year old Andrew MacRae disappeared.

Mrs Wallace told officers how the couple were about 100 yards away from the Dalmagarry lay-by where Mrs MacRae's burnt out BMW was found and they could smell burning rubber at about 7.40pm.

She said: "I saw in the headlights of a car a couple with a pushchair. But as I got closer, it was only a man.

Renee MacRae.
Renee MacRae.

"He was bending over a pushchair with its hood up and one arm supporting some stuff heaped on and around the pram. I got the impression something brown was involved.

"Whatever was on it appeared to have clothing over it and was hanging over the pushchair.

"The man looked directly at me. His eyes were wide and staring and I would have said caused by fear or panic. He was in his late 30s, dark hair, short back and sides and was wearing what appeared to be a blue anorak.

"I may have seen more but for the fact this man with staring eyes frightened me and I looked away."

Mrs MacRae's secret lover, William MacDowell, now 80 and the father of Andrew denies murdering them both at the Dalmagarry lay-by.

He is also accused of disposing of their bodies, burning the car, destroying other evidence, and disposing of items including a blue cross pushchair and a Volvo estate boot hatch.

Mrs MacRae's son Andrew.
Mrs MacRae's son Andrew.

MacDowell has lodged special defences of alibi claiming he was elsewhere in Inverness that night and blames Mrs MacRae's building company director husband Gordon for the murders.

The jury also heard that MacDowell was interviewed several times by police and on two occasions was "worried, dejected and tired" in the opinion of Detective Chief Inspector Donald MacArthur, who has also since died.

Mr MacArthur also recalled MacDowell being physically sick but that he consistently denied any involvement in the suspected murders.

It was also disclosed that "a heavy deposit of blood the size of a half crown" was found in the boot of Mrs MacRae's BMW.

Earlier, the trial was told about a mysterious figure seen trying to hide behind a Volvo estate car a few hundred yards away from the spot where Renee MacRae and her son Andrew disappeared on November 12, 1976.

The trial before Lord Armstrong continues.

View our fact sheet on court reporting here

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